It seems hard to believe that seventeen years have passed since the events of 9/11. For those of us who are old enough to remember, the images are vivid we remember where we were as if it were yesterday. Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks, was killed by U.S. military forces in 2011. But somehow, it doesn’t seem that justice was fully served. Scripture is timeless and relevant and it gives us a framework in which to consider our emotions and our responses in light of such injustice. In the book of Judges we read about a horrible, unprovoked attack in which 69 sons from one family were brutally murdered (Judges 9:5). The account tells us that the youngest son, Jotham, escaped the massacre. How does he respond? Does he mount a vigilante army to seek retribution? Does he slip into a deep depression? Does he introduce legislation to have swords outlawed in Israel?
I’m sure that Jotham worked through a range of emotions in the grieving process (although the text does not tell us specifically). What we do know is that he ultimately turned the matter over to God to bring about justice. He addressed those who had killed his brothers and he said, “If you have acted justly, so be it. But if you have acted unjustly (which I strongly suspect), I pray that you are brought to justice.” And they were.
God has established human government to act as his representative in bringing about justice (Romans 13). But we are well aware that government does not always administer justice rightly. Sometimes criminals elude the authorities. Sometimes the evidence isn’t available to convict. Sometimes the judge gets bribed or has his/ her own agenda. This is where we can take comfort in knowing that God does not forget or lose track of injustice and mistreatment. And he will bring about perfect justice in his time. This frees us from having to keep score.
Of course, if we are honest, this whole matter of justice is tricky business. The reality is that we are all sinners deserving of God’s judgment. Our sins against God are even more heinous than these other acts of terror against humanity. We can be thankful that, through the cross, God has made a way for the penalty of sin to be paid and for our sins to be forgiven.
Photo credit: https://www.onthisday.com/photos/9-11-attack-on-world-trade-towers